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Nicaragua – still in the sights of the US imperialists

Written by: (Contributed) on 25 August 2021


The people of Nicaragua return to the polls later this year as part of democratic decision-making processes opened by the Great Triumph of the Sandinista Revolution of 19 July 1979. Previously the country had been governed in a manner akin to a banana plantation under the control of the Somoza family who were US stooges. While decades have passed, it remains impossible for Nicaraguans to separate the present day from past legacies.

Fears have, therefore, arisen about US-led foreign interference in the electoral processes with the specific intention of removing the progressive legacies of the Sandinistas led by present President Daniel Ortega; difficulties have arisen, which remain problematic.

In June the Ortega administration arrested five opposition candidates for the presidency: Cristiana Chamorro Barrios, Arturo Cruz Jnr., Felix Maradiaga, Juan Sebastian Chamorro and Miguel Moro. The charges were that the five had allegedly broken Nicaraguan laws. A closer look has also provided evidence of shadowy US-led intelligence-type operations.

Chamorro, for example, is alleged to have received millions of dollars from various US-based organisations and then laundered the money through her own foundations. One of the US-based organisations was later identified as the so-called National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Maradiaga and others are alleged to have received financial support from the so-called US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the NED.

The NED was established during the early days of the Reagan presidential administration in 1983 with the specific aim of 'promoting democracy abroad', which was basically the export of 'US values' to promote 'US interests'. Its later history has included the promotion of the so-called Arab Spring which was used to topple various governments, including Libya, and replacing them with pro-US administrations in the Middle East. It has been generally noted the role of the NED has taken over from previous CIA-type clandestine operations based on spooks to a more open and corporate-type agendas resting upon overseas 'aid programs'.

The US have had a long-time involvement in Central America where North American capital penetrated deeply into the five countries of the region during the later nineteenth century. It was accompanied by political and military interference, which became the order of the day. It was noted by one of those actively involved, Major-General Smedley D. Butler, that, 'I spent 33 years and four months in active service as a member of our country's
most agile military forces – the Marine Corps. And during that period I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street, and for the bankers. In short I was a racketeer for capitalism'. (1) He also lamented 'I was rewarded with honours, medals, promotion. Looking back on it, I feel I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was operate his racket in three city districts. We marines operated on three continents'. (2)

Such behaviour, for most Nicaraguans, is viewed as commonplace, their country being continually subject to US assessments with strategic considerations for regional defence and security.  

Following the Great Triumph of 19 July 1979, the Sandinistas established a revolutionary administration in Managua. They soon met with fierce resistance from the Reagan administration which conspired with the ruling Argentine military junta to topple the Sandinistas. Original military planning with Operation Charly included the Argentine military leading a regional task force to occupy the whole of Central America. The plan, however, never achieved fruition. The perpetrators subsequently used a fall-back position to establish the Contra force for 'low-intensity warfare techniques' and the destabilisation of the Sandinista government from neighbouring countries.

In 1979 the Argentine military, for example, established covert facilities in Panama, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua; the 'Argentine Method' included 'death-squads' and targeted assassinations. It was accompanied the following year with the 'Cocaine Coup' in Bolivia where about seventy foreign agents were used by Argentina to stage a military coup and install a junta linked to drug cartels for illicit financial support for clandestine operations. (3) The whole venture linked far-right European fascists with the Mafia to their counterparts in the US and Latin America.

It is also important to note the role of mercenaries with the London-based KMS organisation
being used for clandestine operations with the Contra based in Southern Honduras near the border with northern Nicaragua. (4)  

The US was also responsible for co-ordinating their counter-insurgency operations across the globe: in 1985, for example, the Citizens for America organisation which was used by Oliver North based in the White House, was responsible for a meeting with rebel groups from Laos, Angola, Afghanistan and Nicaragua in Jamba, Southern Africa. (5) The only common denominator between the four groups was drugs.

Throughout the whole Jamba conference security was provided by the South African Defence Forces (SADF), revealing their links to US-led operations elsewhere. Their support, including extensive financial assistance, to the Presidential Guard on the Comoros Islands in the Mozambique Channel also included a secret intelligence listening station and a base from which arms were transported to rebel groups in the Middle East, Mozambique, Afghanistan and elsewhere. (6)

Part of the role of the SADF during the period also included arms sales from China in a secret operation code-named Hansa. It was used to arm rebel groups with the specific intention of distancing traceable links to western involvement with insurgencies. (7)   

Subsequent disclosures from senior US government officials including Richard Clarke, who was a so-called 'counter-terrorism' czar, contains references to US-led proxy wars in Central America, Southern Africa and Afghanistan. (8) The US strategy was to create regional hubs to serve 'US interests', and dislodge any challenge to traditional hegemonic positions which, at the time, included those with links to the former Soviet Union. With the present Cold War, the main adversary is now considered to be China.

Such developments have given the people of Nicaragua a rather cynical attitude toward US-led involvement in their country and the wider region. The recent visit by US Vice-President Kamala Harris to Central America has merely strengthened concerns about present US-led foreign policy agendas. The subsequent announcement that the Biden administration had formulated a new initiative for the region called the 'Root Causes Strategy' to deal with the problem of asylum-seekers into the US, would appear merely an excuse for greater US interference in Central America. (9)  

The five pillars of the new US 'Root Causes Strategy' include:

                                                    addressing poverty;
                                                    fighting corruption;
                                                    promoting human rights;
                                                    fighting crime;
                                                    combating violence,

which all appear convenient points of entry for questionable US aid agencies and their 'political advisors' to interfere in the wider region in the name of 'US interests'.   

The fact that Harris is a former Ambassador to El Salvador during the period 2012-16, and a senior diplomat for Latin America with the State Department merely reveals the continued importance of Central America to the wider US military and security provision for the region. The US is seeking compliant political leaders to serve 'US interests'; the fact they appear to continue to support President Juan Orlando Hernandez of Honduras despite the fact he is 'almost certainly a drug trafficker', leaves little to speculation. (10) Provided such people toe the US line, the culture of impunity is maintained by the White Hose.  

The US is merely singing the same old song, once again, with all which that position will inevitably involve for the people of Nicaragua and Central America; most of the problems in Central America remain the direct outcome of previous US foreign policy.
When Nicaragua's Foreign Affairs Minister, Denis Moncada recently stated, 'Nicaragua is an independent State but the US and European powers continually sought to maintain imperialist and colonial domination over our country. We deserve respect and peace', it set the tone for the forthcoming elections in November. A subsequent statement from the Sandinistas that, 'Nicaragua is committed to the celebration of free, fair, and transparent general elections this November 7', clarified their strong commitment to democracy, which should be noted as running counter to usual US regional foreign policy:

                                                            Viva Sandinista!


1.     See: Common Sense, Major-General Smedley D. Butler, (US, 1935), re-published,
        Volcanoes and Hurricanes, Megan Martin, (London, 1982).
2.     Ibid.
3.     Wikipedia: Operation Charly, 22 August 2021; and, 'Los Secretos', Maria Seone, 24 March 2006; and, Italian Parliamentary Commission on Terrorism, into the role of Stefano delle Chiaie, 22 July 1997.
4.     Someone Else's War, Anthony Rogers, (London, 1998), pp. 228-229.
5.     Wikipedia: Jack Abramoff, 18 February 2006; and, The Fast Rise and Steep Fall of Jack Abramoff, The Washington Post, 29 December 2005.
6.     Someone Else's War, op.cit., page 123.
7.     Apartheid Guns and Money, Hennie van Vuuren, (Johannesburg, 2019), Chapter 10, pp. 388-405.
8.     Against all Enemies, Richard A. Clarke, (New York, 2004), pp. 47-48.
9.     Harris' Visit to Central America, CNN., 7 June 2021; and, 'Kamala Harris', The Federalist, 30 July 2021.
10.   Federalist, ibid., 30 July 2021.


The contributor worked in Nicaragua in 1986 as a member of an international work brigade for the Fifth Battle for the Coffee. He has maintained a strong commitment toward the wider Central America region since that time.



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